A long awaited victory and a healthy helping of severe weather underscored the Cardinals’ 4-0 victory over Central on Monday at Sparks Field.
Benton (7-4) was 0-9 in regular season games against Central (3-11) dating back to 2008, but due to a strong performance by senior forwards Melanie Murphy and Jayde Williams were finally able to end that unfortunate streak.
Benton coach Rick Williams noted the significance of this non-conference win.
“Central has soccer players one after another, they’ve been the perennial soccer powerhouse in St. Joseph since way back in the day. I don’t think we’ve even played them close in the last four years, but our girls wanted to win, they handled the game plan, and got us the win,” Williams said.
Senior midfielder Alejandra Martinez further detailed the team’s respect for Central’s program.
“We’ve always been like ‘let’s look to them and see how they do it, they’ve got this down and we should work on that too,’” Martinez said. “So it feels really good to finally get it over with and be able to feel proud for ourselves. We’ve got some great players this year and it feels amazing with how well we’ve done.”
The Cardinals struck fast as Murphy broke through Central’s defense twice for quick strike goals, scoring two before the 20-minute mark. With just a minute remaining in the half, fellow senior Jayde Williams got in on the action with another goal to build their lead even further.
Williams touched on the dynamic of his senior forward tandem.
“We’ve got two or three kids that can really handle the ball and draw attention, and that allows us to give other players one on ones and some breakaways,” Williams said. “So if they’ve got three people on Jayde (Williams) and she can put the ball in the corner to Melanie (Murphy), she’s fast. These girls step up and feed on that, and that’s huge for us going into districts.”
The second half was quickly interrupted with a heavy downpour and a perilous flash of lightning which postponed the game for 30 minutes.
Riding a wave of momentum, Williams put faith in his team’s toughness.
“I said to them during the break, ‘Mentally tough kids win games like this. Weak people lose games like this,” Williams said. “So if we’re as tough as we think we are we should be able to go right back at them and not worry about this breaking our momentum.”
As the two teams returned to a drench field, a Central own goal in the 55th minute all but put to rest the hope of an Indians comeback, and another flash of lightning resulted in the game being called in Benton’s favor.
Benton expects to return to conference play against Lafayette on Wednesday, while Central will do the same against Liberty also on Wednesday.